Tenor Luciano Pavarotti was sick last night (May 8) and canceled his appearance at the Metropolitan Opera -- his next-to-last scheduled performance at the famed New York opera house. The 66-year-old s

Tenor Luciano Pavarotti was sick last night (May 8) and canceled his appearance at the Metropolitan Opera -- his next-to-last scheduled performance at the famed New York opera house. The 66-year-old singer, whose live opera appearances have diminished in recent years, is still scheduled to sing the role of Cavaradossi in the Met's "Tosca" on Saturday.

Met general manager Joseph Volpe was booed loudly when he walked onstage to announce Pavarotti was canceling due to the flu. "I know you're disappointed," he told the sellout crowd of 4,000. "You can boo some more if it makes you feel better."

Volpe said Pavarotti was "disappointed" and "asked for me to say to you, how so, so sorry he was and to apologize to you. He knew you would be understanding."

Pavarotti was advised not to sing for at least 48 hours, according to a statement. Pavarotti "very much hopes" that he will recover in time for Saturday's performance, the statement said. The tenor added in his own statement: "I am very, very sorry for the Met audience but I have no choice. It is a cruel fact of a singer's life that it is just impossible for the voice to perform with this condition."

Saturday's "Tosca," the last night of the current Met season, is a much-anticipated gala evening. The Met is charging $75 to $1,875 instead of the usual $30 to $265 for the performance, which will be followed by a formal dinner and dance. The company also is setting up a video screen on Lincoln Center plaza and distributing 3,000 free tickets for a simulcast.

Pavarotti is missing from the Met roster next season -- for the first time since 1969-70 -- and he has not committed to any other future performances of staged opera but hasn't ruled out that possibility.

The tenor's schedule in recent years has been dominated by recitals and arena concerts, but the Met is the company most closely associated with Pavarotti; he has sung 373 performances of 20 of his 26 parts there.


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